La Vie en Cannes

A dispatch from the most glamorous film festival of them all.

Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent

The Cannes Film Festival is Disneyland for the red-carpet crowd. (And said carpet remains rolled out, whether it is being traversed by A-listers or regular folk, for the duration of the two-week festival.) Movie stars, socialites, and industry folk stalk La Croisette in tuxedos and voluminous gowns and, as W editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi pointed out at an intimate dinner he hosted, there’s always another brunch, dinner, cocktail hour, party, yacht, or island to go to—each one more extravagant than the last. Oh, and there are also films.

After Hours Actors loosened their bow ties after long days of press conferences, premieres, and pressing flesh with producers at the pop-up clubs that flooded downtown Cannes. Bungalow 8, Amy Sacco’s celebrity haunt, was the hideout of choice for the likes of Jason Statham (in town to promote his action franchise Expendables 3, which is decidedly not competing for the Palme d’Or) and James McAvoy, who arrived straight from the premiere of his romantic drama The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. The inimitable Grandmaster Flash was stationed behind the decks night after night.

At Silencio, an outpost of David Lynch’s luxurious Paris club, glamorous young Parisians spent long nights dancing or languidly smoking on the patio. The club also played host to cast parties. After a late screening of David Michod’s The Rover, Guy Pierce arrived looking impossibly dapper in his tuxedo, insuring all his guests made their way to the club’s private roof.

After an intimate performance by Rita Ora at Belvedere’s La Chambre Noire at the JW Marriott (at a party hosted by Theophilus London), the pop tart resurfaced, along with Theophilus, at André Saraiva’s hedonistic den, Le Baron. She was last spotted gyrating atop a banquet.

The venues off La Croisette’s beaten path were more spacious, which meant full bars and buffets. A brunch to fete Relativity Media’s 10-year anniversary, hosted by Absolut Elyx at the stunning Hotel Du Cap in Antibes, brought in the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrien Brody, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The hotel, which is not unlike a miniature Versailles, also played host to the extravagant Amfar soiree. Following lunch, a handful of guests retired to a nearby yacht to gulp rosé and gallop across the Riviera on jet skis.

On the Big Screens It was not only the open bars that brought the hordes to the South of France. Some of the festival’s most buzzed-about films tackled topics like the libertine life of a famed couturier, the unfavorable conditions of the Belgian working class, and the bizarre whims of an eccentric millionaire (a reflection of the Cannes crowd?).

Saint Laurent, the second YSL biopic of the year, hones in on the darkest moments of the designer’s life (drugs and alcohol could be second-billed on the cast). While not a front-runner for the Palme d’Or, the film is pure visual candy, in no small due to model Aymeline Valade’s breakout role as the designer’s muse Betty Catroux and Gaspard Ulliel’s impressive performance as Saint Laurent. His full-frontal scene doesn’t hurt the case for the film either.

Brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne may snag their third Palme d’Or—which would be a record for the festival—with Two Days, One Night. The drama follows Marion Cotillard’s Sandra, a working class Belgian woman attempting to convince coworkers to forgo their bonuses so she can keep her job. Most impressive feat: succeeding in making their otherworldly leading lady look working class.

Another major Palme d’Or contender, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, stars Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. (You read that correctly.) The biopic of reclusive millionaire John DuPont (Carrell, in a prosthetic nose), who trains an underappreciated wrestler (Tatum) for the 1988 Olympics, thrilled critics. Both actors are already garnering Oscar buzz, especially Carell. If Nicole Kidman taught us anything when she nabbed her Academy Award for The Hours, it is that prosthetic noses win statues.

Meanwhile, David Michod’s near-future outback thriller The Rover, starring Guy Pearce as a man hell-bent on getting his car back, and Robert Pattinson as an unwilling accomplice, was a crowd-pleaser. Pattinson also impressed as a limo driver seeking to break into the movie business in David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars, proving the heartthrob can do more than just vamp.

Bringing up the rear is the Grace Kelly biopic Grace of Monaco, which had critics scrambling to make the best disparaging pun possible. The winner? The New York Times, with the now oft-quoted “Dis-Grace of Monaco.” The film proved that even at Cannes, mere style doesn’t always prevail.

Photos: La Vie en Cannes

Jason Statham and Amy Sacco at the Bungalow 8 Cannes Pop-Up.

James McAvoy at the Bungalow 8 Cannes Pop-Up.

The bar at Silencio Cannes.

Silencio Cannes.

Silencio Cannes

Gaspard Ulliel in Saint Laurent.

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night.

Channing Tatum and Steve Carell in Foxcatcher.

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson in The Rover.

Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco.